In 1997, October was declared “Coffee Month” by President Fidel Ramos. Since then, coffee advocates marked the occasion by giving away samples of coffee to consumers in malls like Ayala’s Greenbelt. This happned even before the days of coffee chains and third wave coffee came about.
But what has really developed since then?
People started taking a look or a second look at Philippine coffee. As fate would have it, foreign coffee chains soon swamped our shores but the Philippine coffee people carried on.
Year after year, it was called by different names:
• Black and White 1997 to 2001—together with DTI-ICOCA (International Coffee Organization Certifying Agency) led by the late Antonio C. Reyes partnered with coffee giants and coffee start ups all with one goal: serve Philippine coffee for weeks for free at Ayala’s Greenbelt mall.
• Coffee Break 2002—the Philippine Coffee Board Inc was formed, kicking off a series of annual promotions started by now NCC Director Bill Luz. Bill rounded up sponsors to showcase Philippine coffee and got merchants and roasters to serve coffee in Greenbelt Malls 1 and 3, at one point for a whole month.
• Coffee Origins 2008—then the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. started to share the sources of these PH coffees: Sagada, Benguet, Matutum became familiar names. Washed Sulu Robusta, Cavite Barako and more. The coffee, free at the nearby Ayala Mall, was also given intellectual discussion on how to move it forward at the First National Coffee Summit at the AIM Conference Center.
• Coffee Origins Davao 2014—The Philippine Coffee Board, after all the years caffeinating Manila and Makati citizens listened to the clamor from the Southern coffee markets and farmers. Thus the Free Coffee Festival moved to Davao’s Abreeza Mall with no less than Mayor Rodrigo Duterte opening the event last year. Thanks to locals like Sonny DIzon of Mt Apo coffee, the Davao festival became a reality.
• Coffee Origins 2015 Thinking Asean
This month, it will be in Davao again! Free coffee for all mall goers from October 21 to 25 at Abreeza Mall, Davao City.
And since this is the regime of ASEAN integration, the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI) invited Asean coffee experts to share their knowledge on coffee and grace the annual event. In fact there now is an Asean Coffee Federation of which the PCBI is a member.
There will be coffee served from Mt. Apo, Sulu, Sultan Kudarat while the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will bring their coffee products also from Cordillera like Benguet and Mountain Province, Ifugao; Negros, Iloilo, Bataan and even Doña Remedios Trinidad and Aurora.
It should be a fun and caffeinated week in Davao. There are coffee fun events and a lot of gifts and surprises prepared by the organizing committee.
How much is a cup of coffee anyway? These days, people spend from as low as P2 for a sachet to as high as P150 for a specialty coffee drink. That is coffee for you. It crosses race, creed and economic status. Everyone drinks coffee and getting it free for one week is the best gift the coffee industry gives back to loyal consumers of our brew . . . our local Philippine brew.
How do we give back to the coffee people for all this free coffee? Let’s plant some trees. The industry needs a million trees to support our daily habit.
Further, planting coffee ensures that we will have environmental protection, help reduce soil erosion and the use of land for non-productive reasons. Coffee bears fruit for 50 years, albeit the most productive years are when it is 12 to 14 years of age. And the new varieties also yield well even just after 18 months.
Plant a tree. Have some coffee from the PCBI and sponsoring coffee roasters and farmers. This is their way of thanking you for all the years of support since 1997. Free coffee drinks for the public and unwavering support from a coffee-drinking public. You deserve a cup or two, everyday for a week!
The Coffee Origins Free coffee event will run from October 21 to 25 at Abreeza Mall in Davao City. The 8th National Coffee Summit will be on October 22 and seats are going fast from what we hear.
E-mail PCBI at admin.pcbi @gmail.com or text 0908-8831218.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao, Cebu City and Antipolo City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at email@example.com